Welcome to the Geek Shirts HQ Designer Unlocked Interview Series where we put the best independent designers under the spotlight.
This week we have a cool guest who was able to give me an English lesson (I never knew what apalooza meant) as well as showing his awesome designs. He is a self confessed sci-fi geek, is into computers and loves to fight dinosaurs (ok I made the last one up! How can you fight Dinosaurs? they are too big!. 
Geek Shirts HQ Welcomes Apalooza Design
He is has described himself "as an ordinary guy" I don' think this is true, as his designs are very inventive not only with the graphical design but the cool play on words as well, it shows how much thought has gone into each design.
One thing that worries me a little. I heard the only way he can really get inspired is sitting in a replica of the original bridge of the Starship Enterprise. I have this very worrying for a grown man as I would personally prefer the bridge in the rebooted movie!
Stop saying "Make it so" that was Picard not Kirk! We still have an interview to finish!
Can you start by giving some background about yourself? Where you are from? What is your background? How did you get into design?
I currently live in New Joisey but I'm actually a true Lawnguylander. (You have to be a Lawnguylander to really know what that means.) I'm an ordinary guy. I was a typesetter/graphic designer way back in the day, then I became a computer dude; a really great computer dude – I architect some pretty cool IT infrastructure solutions if I do say so myself.
I left typesetting (Yes typesetting the way the dinosaurs did it with their tiny arms, not desktop publishing) because I happen to color blind and I could not really do anything outside spot color work for print jobs.
Now I am working in design again in order to keep my creative juices flowing outside the scope of the IT world. Thanks to the fact that I married a School of Visual Arts graduate I can always ask her to double check my colors, even though she wants nothing to do with the tee business – she does help me with color though. I am such a sci-fi geek and I love mash-up designs so my work tends to include both
"droids are people too"
I love the name Apalooza Design Where did you get the name from?
These days there are so many things have the -a-palooza suffix. Those things are associated with FUN! The Lollapalooza concert tour for one!
People say party-a-palooza or just about anything-a-palooza when they want to indicate a good time will be had by all. So, being a cancer survivor, I wanted a name that would remind me every day to have fun. To remind me that everything I do is to be considered "apalooza".
Where do you get your inspiration for your designs?
I am kind of an old dude, well middle aged I guess. I have a teen and a tween and they help me find inspiration for pop culture references. I am also a geek. I love science and I love math and I love computers and all things sci-fi, puns too, which helps in the mash-up process.
"I don’t know if wizards are real… check the internet."
When you create a new t shirt design, what is sort of process do you follow? 
I am very free-flowing… well… um… totally disorganized is a better way to put it. I don't sketch at all and I go straight to vectorizing my ideas. I use Inkscape and I just start shaping what I have in my mind. 
Looking at your own portfolio what is your favourite design and why?
I love my design "Calm You Shall Keep". Mainly because, as my son puts it, I created a meme within a meme. All kinds of Yoda / Keep Calm mash-ups have surfaced since I created it but mine was first.
George Takei even featured it in his Facebook wall photos. You can't get it anywhere right now but it will be available soon as an officially licensed Star Wars tee over at WeLoveFine.com
"My latest parody of Star Trek. Nobody in Sci Fi is safe. A Klingon linebacker would be frightening!"
What current projects are you working on now? And can we get an exclusive peek?
I am working on a cool Legend of Korra inspired parody mash-up. I can't give too much away right now but it is an awesome collaboration with Mike Adams aka pixhunter. Mike just won one of the "Judges Pick" awards in the WeLoveFine.com Star Wars Tee Design Contest!
I'm having some blurring vision problems lately so collaborations are really important to me right now. I get some really awesome tee ideas that I simply can't execute on but need to get them out of my brain and onto a tee somehow.
Here is one that I did recently with Droidloot and available at WeLoveFine.com. I love this design because it is really my first, non-pop culture tee, but sends an important message about Individuality, which is the name of the design.
Collaborations have made me realize that I am pretty darn good art director; maybe even a better art director than I am an artist, ha ha.
Who are your favourite designers?
Oh there are so many. Bamboota is up there. Fishbiscuit, whom you have already interviewed, is another. David Benton, aka Droidloot is fantastic and a primary collaboration partner of mine. Midgerock is phenomenal as is Steve Gelenter aka CoD Designs, who lives close to me and we still have not met for coffee over at the Gotham City Diner… yep that is a real diner near where I live and it is very much Gotham themed.
Here is picture of a mural at the diner (no I did not paint it but I totally geek out about it every time we go there) they installed actual real ironwork as the fire escape in front of it: 
Do you try to convey any message in your designs? 
With many of my designs I try to make people think or I try to make a mash-up very clever.
The Individuality design mentioned earlier one strong piece to inspire thought, at least I hope so.  In this collaboration I did with John Midgely aka midgerock I totally wanted to convey the message that the Red Shirts were seeking out their revenge, deserved their revenge even. LOL! Was our favorite Vulcan going to get out of this one? Midge is awesome you should totally check out his work too.
Star Wars Or Star Trek? Which Do you prefer?
I love both but in my mind Star Trek wins. I am working on a collaboration with David Benton aka DroidLoot… and the imagery of it will totally explain the way I feel. I can't elaborate further right now. It will unfortunately have to remain a mystery but I will definitely send the design over to you once we are ready to let the public see it.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? 
Well I am an IT guy and I work in the world of finance so I hope to have worked my way up to the CTO level  – sooner than later – and be perhaps ready to move into semi-retirement at a relatively young age. Still designing tees, though for sure.
"The Circle of Screaming as Barney would explain it if he once again stole Lily’s blackboard."
What other interests and hobbies do you have when you’re not designing?
I love fishing, I love to play first person shooters. I play one that is MMOFPS called Combat Arms. It is tons of fun. I have two kids so they really are a big part of my downtime away from work. They swim competitively and I love to cheer them on.
Anyone you want to give a shout out to?
Of course my wife and my childrenJohn Midgely and David Benton – two awesome dudes! Crystal "Bamboota" Fonton and Matt Doman. Matt has helped me with pointers on my first tee ever picked up by a daily site.  The entire RBC crew! 
This was my first tee ever picked up a daily, the one Bamboota and Matt Doman gave me some pointers on. TeeRaiders.com had it as their second tee ever so big shout out to TeeRaiders.com:
"Is it Dalek DeLarge or maybe Alex Supreme? Either way London is in big big trouble."
Where is the best place to find your designs and buy some of your shirts? And of course get in contact with you
One last question, when you going to design a Firefly shirt as I am a massive fan? 🙂
I have a few Firefly related designs. Some were pulled offline recently. The way tee design works with many of the artists (at least the ones I associate with) is that we are careful to make sure we are not infringing on anyone's intellectual property even though the design might be considered to be a Star Trek inspired design or a Firefly inspired design etc. etc. 
We do this by creating parody. Parody is protected; at least in the US it is. Many of the artists that I know in the tee design world, and I know many of them, actually share works in progress with each other to get feedback.
The feedback serves two purposes
1)To make sure that what they are doing is parody; we will really criticize that aspect of the design and flesh it out.
2) To really just help each other make our designs as awesome they can be. In fact that is how I came across you and your twitter feed. Naheed (fishbiscuit) and I are in some online artists groups together.
So what happens on a website like redbubble.com is that Redbubble has to protect themselves; so if DC or Marvel or whomever comes along with a list of several hundred designs that they say have to come down, then Redbubble just takes them down.
Redbubble does not have the resources to check each one and decide on their own if the person/entity complaining is correct in asking them to remove something, it is my understanding that they just remove it. I don't blame them. It is a shame but I totally understand why they comply with the request.
I have designs that I know are parody and should be protected but have been pulled down; but who am I to fight it? You can't fight it, you just have to roll with it or take the route of going officially licensed as I am trying to do with some of my designs. That's my insider's view on that matter.
Soooooo… back to your question regarding Firefly LOL!!! I am a huge huge fan too. Here is one inspired by Firefly for you. I hope you like it! It just printed on a daily yesterday (August 20th) and I hope you grabbed it.
Thanks for a really cool interview, don't forget to check his his cool Redbubble store and look out for his new design over at We Love Fine.